rock collector


Clangers is an iconic British stop motion animated children's television series made by Smallfilms, the company set up by Oliver Postgate (writer and narrator) and Peter Firmin (modelmaker, animator and illustrator). Firmin designed the characters and his wife knitted and 'dressed' the Clangers. Music (which was often significant in the stories, as well as being theme and incidental music) was by Vernon Elliot.

The first episode was broadcast by the BBC on November 16, 1969 and a further twenty-five episodes were made. The twenty sixth episode was broadcast on November 10, 1972 and the final Clangers programme was a four minute election special on October 10, 1974. (This last episode has not been seen since its original broadcast, although it still exists in the BBC archive. A short clip is available at the BBC's website )

The programme featured a number of small creatures living in peace and harmony on - and in - a small, hollow planet far far away, nourished by Blue String Pudding, and Green Soup harvested from the planet's volcanic soup wells by the Soup Dragon. The Clangers looked similar to mice, anteaters and, from their pink colour, pigs. They wore clothes reminiscent of Roman armour and spoke in whistles.

The word "Clanger" is said to derive from the sound made by opening the metal cover of one of the creatures' crater-like burrows. Each of these is covered with a door made from an old metal dustbin lid, which is there to protect against meteorite impacts.

The first recorded sighting of a Clanger was in the 1967 Noggin the Nog book The Moon Mouse.


The principal characters are:

  • Granny Clanger
  • Major Clanger
  • Mother Clanger
  • Small Clanger
  • Tiny Clanger
  • The Soup Dragon - A benign creature with a penchant for Green Soup
  • The Iron Chicken (a "bird" made of scrap metal - actually modelled from Meccano - which lives in an orbiting nest literally made of metallic junk found around the studio)
  • Froglets (small orange aliens with black stalk-like legs and large eyes who travel around in a top hat)
  • The Cloud (a cloud which floats over the surface of the planet with musical rain drops)

Music and sound effects

One of the most noted aspects of the programme was its use of sound effects, as this was the Clangers' sole form of communication, and score composed by Vernon Elliot under instructions from Oliver Postgate. Most of the music used over the two series was written by Postgate in the form of "musical sketches" or graphs which he drew for Elliot who would then convert the drawings into musical score. The music would then be recorded by the two along with other musicians, dubbed the Clangers ensemble, in a village hall where they would often leave the windows open leading to the sounds of birds outside being heard on some recordings. Much of the score was performed on Elliot's bassoon and also included the sounds of harps, clarinet, glockenspiel and bells.

The distinctive whistles made by the Clangers, performed on swanee whistles, have become as identifiable as the characters themselves and are much imitated amongst viewers of the programme. The series creators have said that the Clangers, living in vacuum, did not actually communicate by sound, but rather by a type of nuclear magnetic resonance, which was translated to audible whistles for the human audience. These whistles followed the rhythm and intonation of a script in the English language, including swear-words. The action was also narrated by a separate voice-over from Postgate, however the series was shown without narration to a group of overseas students, who each felt that the Clangers were speaking their own language.

In 2001, a selection of the series' music and sound effects was compiled by Jonny Trunk from 128 musical cues held by Oliver Postgate who contributed act one, "The Iron Chicken and the Music Trees", of A Clangers Opera, with libretto, which he had personally compiled.

Track listing

  1. Intro Music and Dialogue from "Episode One"
  2. The Start Of "Music"
  3. From "Visiting Friends"
  4. "Clangers running around the planet!"
  5. From "Fishing"
  6. From "Treasure"
  7. "Some Musical Sequences"
  8. From "Goods" (This was used when the machine in the episode "Goods" went into continual production of various plastic objects)
  9. "An End Title"
  10. "Tiny Clangers Radio Hat"
  11. "Some Of Oliver's Special Clangers Effects including the Froglets"
  12. From "The Rock Collector"
  13. From "Glowhoney"
  14. From "Teapot"
  15. From "Cloud"
  16. From "The Seed"
  17. From "The Bags"
  18. From "Blow Fruit"
  19. From "The Pipe Organ"
  20. From "The Music of the Spheres"
  21. "A short, silent interval"
  22. "A Clangers Opera, Act One" "The Iron Chicken and the Music Trees" (Compiled by Oliver Postgate)

Episode listing

Series One (1968-1970)

  1. "Flying"
  2. "The Visitor"
  3. "Chicken"
  4. "Music"
  5. "The Intruder"
  6. "Visiting Friends"
  7. "Fishing"
  8. "The Top Hat"
  9. "The Egg"
  10. "The Hoot"
  11. "The Meeting"
  12. "Treasure"
  13. "Goods"

Series Two (1971-1972)

  1. "The Tablecloth"
  2. "The Rock Collector"
  3. "Glow-Honey"
  4. "The Teapot"
  5. "The Cloud"
  6. "The Egg"
  7. "The Noise machine"
  8. "The Seed"
  9. "Pride"
  10. "Bags"
  11. "The Blow-Fruit"
  12. "Pipe Organ"
  13. "The Music of the Spheres"

There was also an election special produced in 1974 entitled "Vote for Froglet".

External links


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